Mark’s Beginnings…

Growing up in a Filipino home, I would always see my mom cooking. Whether breakfast, lunch or dinner was being cooked, it was always a Filipino classic. From breakfast favorites such as sinangag (garlic fried rice), fried eggs and spam to chicken or pork adobo it was those meals that hit home for me.

My first memory of cooking was when I was about 9 years old. One of my favorite things to eat was chomparado – a chocolate rice pudding – that was prepared for breakfast. I always asked my mom to make it, so one day she said you will learn. We set up the pot, poured the rice into water and slowly stirred. When the rice came to its translucent form, she let me pour the cocoa and sugar in. After a little bit of stirring I would ask, “Is it done yet?” And her simple response was, “Not yet.” A few minutes would go by, she would grab the wooden spoon, feel the consistency, and then say in her thick Filipino accent, “Now it’s ready.” Only mom would know. The best part of cooking it was eating it! A couple of scoops of the rice pudding with a few dashes of evaporated milk made the perfect bowl.

Breakfast has and always will be my favorite meal of the day. Probably the making of my first pot of chomparado sparked the fire. But what really made me love breakfast was the time I fried my first egg. For breakfast on the weekends, my mom would cook 6 fried eggs – one for each of us. Her eggs had an extra crisp on the edges which gave it a distinct crunch. Those eggs over the garlic rice would hit you with all the feels. My first time frying an egg was quite an intimidating moment. I mean, I was 11! So I put a frying pan on the stove, poured my oil in and heated it up. I cracked my egg in the pan and you begin to hear the pop of the oil. I didn’t know how to flip the egg, so I just flicked oil on top to cook the whites of the egg. Did I achieve my goal of frying an egg? You bet. Was it the best way? I don’t think so but it was the beginning of my evolution in the kitchen.

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